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Should lawyers be experts in cyber security?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/07/15

A new “Cyber Essentials” certification scheme supported by the UK government and insurance sector is launching “to guide businesses in protecting themselves against cyber threats”. This initiative will consist of a forum “for the insurance industry to share information and best practice” and a free online course for lawyers and accountants in cyber security.

The course will instruct its students on what role they must play in protecting themselves and “will also enable lawyers and accountants to advise their clients”. Provided through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, much advice will be given on safeguarding digital information and raising awareness of cyber issues amongst clients, and examples will be provided of how to deal with issues like workplace information breaches. This comes off the back of the UK government’s findings that 81% of large organisations reported an information security breach in the past year. And whilst this problem is widespread, there are obvious and substantial risks associated with data thefts in the legal sector.

So what is the implication for lawyers? Maybe it will prompt firms to look more seriously into investing in data protection services. Perhaps it means that those already boasting tech skills will become the most desirable candidates. It will almost definitely mean that leaders will begin to recognise data security as a risk management function, rather than an IT problem. If not, data breaches will become un-survivable as clients will invariably choose to take their custom elsewhere, no matter how big the firm or its place in the legal sector.

So, is this a good addition to a legal skillset? As the data security walls will be built higher and higher around law firms, its employees must keep up or risk being left outside. The added ability to advise clients on these issues will boost their expertise – and what better advert for a firm which offers this service than one whose data is watertight?

So, will you be taking the course?